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CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Jeb Owen

Posted by scott.weybright | July 19, 2018

We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite or most influential professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series, which runs through the summer.

Owen holds a yellow piece of plastic and wears an orange jacket with a pond on the background.
Jeb Owen

Today we’re showcasing Jeb Owen, associate professor in the Department of Entomology. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

Denver, Colorado.

Where did you go to school?

B.A. – University of Colorado, Boulder. (Double Major: English & Biology)
M.S. – University of California, Riverside (Department of Entomology)
Ph.D. – University of California, Riverside (Department of Entomology)

How did you become interested in your field?

I study parasites. When I was young I got infected with pinworms! Those are little parasitic worms that live in your intestine. It was both horrifying and fascinating to see that another animal could live inside my body. I never got over that morbid fascination.

Why did you want to become a professor?

I think that curiosity about how the world “works” is one of the most vital attributes of being human. I wanted to become a professor, because it is a job that rewards curiosity. A professor has the very privileged job of exploring, and sharing knowledge.

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

College students are a special group of people at a transition between being passive learners and active participants in business, politics, and society. College is a place where “black and white” facts become decidedly “gray”. This is exciting and painful. I enjoy participating in that transition.

What advice would you pass along to students?

College is not a trade school. You do not come here to learn some handful of facts that will help you do job X. You are here to improve as a “thinker”. That means you are here to learn how to form meaningful questions and how to find valid answers. Those skills will serve you in any job and help you adapt to any challenge. Treat this fleeting time here as an opportunity to engage a bigger, more complex world. Avoid the temptation to check off the minimum requirements for a diploma. If you treat College as passing grade = diploma = job, you will have wasted a lot of your time and money.